September is National Rice Month! To celebrate, BIO wanted to to highlight the amazing and lifesaving biofortified crop, Golden Rice. Golden Rice is a genetically modified rice plant that produces and accumulates provitamin A (β-carotene) in the grain, something that doesn’t happen in naturally occurring rice plants.
According to UNICEF, the estimated number of children deaths precipitated worldwide by vitamin A deficiency (VAD) every year lies at 1.15 million. Many more show VAD-related syndromes, among them loss of sight and increased susceptibility to a number of diseases.
To combat this problem the Golden Rice Project, an initiative by the Rockefeller Foundation, brought together Professors Ingo Potrykus and Peter Beyer, who in an exemplary collaboration created Golden Rice to help mitigate the problem of vitamin A deficiency in the world. This project was deemed so important that a select Humanitarian Board, composed of internationally recognized experts belonging to various reputed institutions, was created to provide strategic guidance to the project.
Though more common in developing countries, the United States sees Vitamin A deficiency as a problem that needs to be tackled on a global scale. In fact in April 2015, The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced the Golden Rice Project as one of the recipients of the Patents for Humanity Award.
Even more, on November 7, 2013, Pope Francis gave his personal blessing to Golden Rice handed to him by one of the creators.
Unfortunately, public misconceptions about genetically modified (GM) organisms have prevented such life-saving crops as Golden Rice from being available to the countries that need it the most. Despite confirmation from top scientific agencies that GM crops are safe for consumption, many organizations and individuals, i.e. Greenpeace, burn field trials, protest life-saving research and spread misinformation to instill fear into consumers.
So for the month of September we encourage you to eat rice, celebrate rice and support life-saving innovation! To learn more about the Golden Rice Project and how you can spread accurate information on this amazing initiate visit www.goldenrice.org.